Samsung ties up with ASML to buy next-generation EUV lithography equipment

According to BusinessKorea, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong ended his business visit to Europe in mid-June. During this trip, he and ASML discussed the introduction of the next generation of Dutch semiconductor equipment manufacturers i.e. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment.

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According to the report, Lee Jae-yong met with ASML CEO Peter Wennink and CTO Martin van den Brink at ASML headquarters in the Netherlands on June 14 (local time), and discussed the introduction of EUV lithography equipment produced this year and plans for next year. The launch of the high numerical aperture (High-NA) EUV lithography equipment has reached an agreement.

High-NA EUV is the next generation of lithography equipment that can engrave finer circuits compared to existing EUV lithography equipment, and it is considered a game-changing device that will determine the sub-3nm foundry market technology winner of the competition. The unit price of High-NA EUV lithography equipment is estimated to be 500 billion won, which is twice that of existing EUV lithography equipment.

Earlier this year, Intel announced that it had signed contracts to buy five of these devices to produce 1.8-nanometer chips by 2025. TSMC also said at the Silicon Valley Technology Symposium on June 16 that it will introduce High-NA EUV lithography equipment into its process for the first time in the world in 2024.

In this battle for next-generation EUV lithography equipment, Samsung Electronics is also seeking to acquire the latest EUV equipment. Lee Jae-Yong’s European business trip was primarily to secure access to next-generation High-NA EUV lithography equipment, as well as the latest generation of equipment currently in production.

ASML can only produce 50 EUV units this year, with lead times ranging from one year to one year and six months. The company’s limited production capacity and long lead times have fueled pre-order competition for High-NA EUV lithography equipment.

The exact time when Samsung Electronics will actually apply the High-NA EUV lithography equipment to its semiconductor process has not yet been determined. However, considering the lead time, Samsung Electronics is expected to start actual use of High-NA EUV lithography equipment in 2024.

Some industry watchers have called for more support from the South Korean government for investment in semiconductor facilities. Samsung Electronics has reportedly secured 18 of the 55 EUV lithography equipment it plans to produce this year. This means that the company’s investment in EUV lithography equipment alone will exceed 4 trillion won.

“If Samsung purchases 10 sets of High-NA EUV lithography equipment, it will cost the company more than 5 trillion won (about 25.85 billion yuan),” an industry source said, “It is necessary to expand government support to strengthen South Korea’s national industry Competitiveness”.

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